Are You Praying the Right Thing When You Pray to Know God’s Will?

“What is God’s will for my life?”

Surely most Christians have asked this question. And surely they have done more than simply asked it – they have prayed to know God’s will. Most of the time when we ask the question, we are desiring an answer to some specific issue in our lives. We want to know God’s will about what job we should pursue, what city we should live in, or who we should marry.

Jesus told us to pray that God’s will would be done, even as His kingdom comes on earth. God’s will being carried out fits hand in glove with the coming of His kingdom, for it’s in God’s kingdom where His will is lovingly and joyfully obeyed. Though it’s good and right for us to seek the answers to specific questions like these, the plain truth is that the vast majority of God’s will has already been revealed to us. His Word is full of commands that reveal the way in which we should live and how we should pray. Consider just one example from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians:

“For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you keep away from sexual immorality, that each of you knows how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not with lustful passions, like the Gentiles, who don’t know God” (1 Thess. 4:3-5).

In other words, we do not need to pray about whether or not it is God’s will for us to be sexually pure; we know without a doubt that it is God’s will for us, as it is for every Christian, to be made into the image of Christ. It’s His will that we should be pure and holy and live in a way that lives up to our calling as His children.

The vast majority of us do not need a further education into God’s will; instead we need to begin to live more fully in what we already know God’s will to be. This fact changes the shape of our prayers both for ourselves and for others.

This line of Jesus’ model prayer – for God’s will to be done – can be applied to us at an individual level. We might, then, instead of spending the majority of our time praying to find out what God’s will is, pray instead for the courage and perseverance it will take for us to live inside of His revealed will. We might pray that we be pure. That we might be faithful husbands and wives. That we might lovingly and generously serve the church.

In the same way, we can pray confidently for others inside of God’s will. We can ask the Lord that our lost friends and family members come to know Christ, for we know this is His will. We can pray against systemic injustice that we see across the world for we also know that this is His will. We can pray for those in positions of powers and authority for we know this is His will, too.

In short, when we read God’s Word, we are reading His will, and that Word can inform us accordingly.

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